FEATURE

Toolkit for "With and About"

This toolkit for “With and About” provides resources to assist educators in designing and delivering more culturally relevant and responsive instruction to and about American Indian peoples.

Introduction

The feature story “With and About” highlights stories from three American Indian families regarding their children’s experiences with the U.S. educational system. This toolkit provides resources for teaching to and about American Indians in ways that are culturally relevant and appropriate.

 

Procedure

  1. Read or revisit the feature story “With and About.”
     
  2. Reflect on these five practices: “Educate for empowerment. Know how to talk about race. Capture the unseen. Resist telling a simple story. Connect to the present.” Teaching Tolerance sees these practices as essential to civil rights instruction, as well as for many other classes and topics. Think about how you can use them to assess and improve your instruction about American Indians and Native history and present-day experiences.

    Take some time to reflect on your own instruction.

    Do your lessons and instructional materials present historical and contemporary perspectives on American Indian peoples and communities?

    Do you ensure that your portrayal of American Indian peoples is up-to-date, accurate and reflective of Indigenous perspectives?

    Do you make sure that your lessons about American Indians do not serve to reinforce or promote myths and stereotypes?

    To go further in your self-assessment, consult Civil Rights Done Right. This PD resource offers a detailed set of curriculum improvement strategies for educators who want to apply the five essential practices. While this resource centers on civil rights instruction, you can use it as a model to assess the depth and breadth of your coverage of American Indian history and present-day experiences, peoples and perspectives.
     
  3. Next, consider the following scenarios on your own or with colleagues.

    An American Indian student asks to talk with you about activities that are planned during November and the celebration of Thanksgiving. The student is upset with the portrayal of the first Thanksgiving as a peaceful meeting of Native peoples and pilgrims. She has asked that the lesson be revised to reflect a different perspective on this event. How might you respond to this student?

    The parents of an American Indian child ask to meet with you to discuss a proposed activity for the upcoming Spirit Week. During this event students are encouraged to dress up as the school mascot, “The Red Raider.” How would you respond? What steps would you take to address this situation?

    A young American Indian child is reluctant to talk about her culture in the classroom. To your knowledge, she is the only American Indian student in your school. You have encouraged her to bring in books and artifacts from her tribe so that her classmates can learn more about her and her tribe, but she hangs her head and refuses to talk with you. What would you do?

 

Resources

American Indians in Children’s Literature

Dr. Debbie Reese (Nambe Pueblo) provides an in-depth analysis of books and other teaching materials that include references to American Indians from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

Public Schools of North Carolina: American Indian Education

Find lists of culturally-responsive instructional resources on this web page.

National Indian Education Association

This association advocates for “comprehensive, culture-based educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.”

National Museum of the American Indian: Classroom Lessons

Find a variety of classroom materials developed by the museum’s education staff and Native community members.